Monday, March 22, 2010

It's a...

First things first - if you have a choice when scheduling your 20 week ultrasound, I would highly recommend a Monday morning appointment. There's hardly any time for butterflies in your stomach because before you know it the weekend is over and you're waking up late and rushing out the door. So much easier than sitting around speculating all week.

We had planned on taking Liam with us to the ultrasound so he could hear the big news from an impartial source. Kind of a cop out I know, but it seemed like it might be less of a blow if a stranger told him Gretchen was a boy than if we had to break the news ourselves. But at the last minute, he decided he'd rather go to his friend Sia's house than tag along with us to the baby doctor. He's such a smart kid. Last time he went with us, he got a little bored half way through and Bill had to take him out to the waiting room to play with the super cool magnetic car table while I finished up my appointment. While that was totally fine, there are some days a girl really wants her husband all to herself. Today was one of those days.

I was grateful to have Bill by my side as the tech checked out all of our baby's parts - heart, brain, kidneys, bladder, legs...and told us everything looked great. And, not having Liam at the appointment gave me the chance to try something out that Bill had wanted to do but I was too impatient to go for. He wanted to have the ultrasound tech write down the baby's sex on a piece of paper so we could give it to a bakery and ask them to make us cupcakes with pink jelly beans on top if it was a girl and blue jelly beans on top if it was a boy. A cute idea but not for me. I couldn't imagine purposely waiting longer to find out if our baby was a girl or a boy. Fortunately Liam inherited his patience from someone other than me.

He was all too happy to wait for our special mother-son date to hear about Gretchen. Then again, there isn't much he won't do for ice cream and candy...

video

So, there you have it. Gretchen is a boy.

A boy.

A boy!

A BOY!!!

My littlest thinker.

Friday, March 19, 2010

March madness.

Chances are, you or someone you love is pretty tied up in the NCAA basketball tournament right now. It's all about the bracket, baby! Isn't stuff like this great? To me, it feels a little bit like the Olympics: totally justified TV watching that goes on for hours and hours each night. I may not be that into basketball or bobsled racing but I am more than happy to sit there night after night to show my support. It would be un-patriotic not to!

Since I don't work in an office setting, I am bracket-free this year. (That's how it works, right? Everyone who goes to an office is assigned a photo-copied sheet and forced to choose teams?) Not wanting to miss out on the fun, I have created a bracket of my own. Want to play? It's easy - just make your picks!

BABY CONRAN GENDER TOURNEY 2010
(circle one per ultrasound)

Nashville, March 22 | GIRL BOY


Or I guess, make your pick. Sort of underwhelming for a bracket now that I think about it. Plus, there's a 50-50 chance you could be right (or wrong) so the odds are kind of boring. The outcome is still pretty exciting, though. At least, it is for me.

If you still want to get in on the action, here are some factors you might want to consider:
  • I think I'm having a girl. So do Liam and Bill. But...

  • I thought I was having a girl when I was pregnant with Liam, too. So did Bill and everyone else in my life. Except my sister.

  • This time, she thinks I'm having a girl.

  • The Magic 8 Ball ap on my phone is certain I am having a boy (and has been since I first got pregnant).

  • I tied my wedding ring to a string and held it over my belly until it started to move. In a circle! The old wives would say that means I'm having a girl.

  • I showed Bill my cool ring trick but he dismissed it completely. Pshaw! Like I could make a string move like that.

  • According to the Chinese lunar calendar, it's a boy.

  • Carrying high? Carrying low? Fat in the face? Fat in the ass? I'll let you be the judge of that...
(Liam took this photo today in the yard and I have to say, I'm surprised how pregnant I look. I haven't even gained 5 pounds! Maybe it's a bad shirt. Or a bad picture. Yeah, when in doubt, definitely blame the four year old.)

The ultrasound is on Monday so stay tuned to find out if you're a big winner. Just three more days until we know if we're having a son or daughter! (I sure hope Gretchen cooperates...)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hypothetical Q & A.

Hypothetical question: Is there anything worse than being sick when you're pregnant?

If you've ever been pregnant and say, gotten a cold, you are probably having a very strong knee-jerk reaction right now. You're raising your hand like a kid in school who totally knows the answer (and maybe has to pee just a little bit), and whisper-shouting under your breath, "No! Hell no! There's nothing worse than being sick when you're pregnant!" And it's true (gold star for you!). Being sick when you're pregnant totally sucks. Not only is it somehow harder to be sick when you're pregnant (especially when you're really big and your lungs are too squished to cough or sneeze properly), it also makes even the most level-headed of mamas start to wonder, "If I'm feeling this bad, how must my poor little baby be doing...?" Never a good place to linger.

The first couple days of being sick are terrible but at least you have optimism on your side. I mean, it's not like you're going to be sick forever, right? Maybe three, four days tops. You start making plans for the end of the week, knowing your trusty immune system will start taking care of business any minute now. Surely you're just one more night of mouth breathing away from feeling tip top and back in the game. But no. Days pass, suddenly a week is gone. What the hell is happening?! You try to appeal to your body for help but your usually helpful immune system is like, "Helllooo? I'm kind of busy here like, growing a human being? I can't help you and make this kick ass baby you requested." And the rest of your body is like, "Yeah...good luck with that."

So, yeah. Being sick when you're pregnant double sucks. But, amazingly, there are worse things.

Like, say you're sick and you're pregnant but this isn't your first pregnancy. Perhaps you were pregnant before with a fairly large baby who took his sweet ass time coming out. And by the time you finally managed to push his almost 9 pounds of cuteness OUT of your body, that wasn't the only thing suddenly hanging on the outside. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about here. Hemorrhoids. Awful, yes, but since that whole entire area was completely massacred at the time, you didn't think too much of it. I mean, hemorrhoids, stitches, swelling - it's all part of the "experience", right?

But then you ask that no-nonsense nurse on the night shift (the overweight one who thinks sugar coating is for wussies) how long until "that" goes away and she's all too quick to answer, "The hemorrhoids? Oh, honey, they never really go away." When she senses that you're about this close to a code blue or whatever, she backpedals slightly, "I mean they'll go away. But it won't take much for them to come back. Like you'll get 'em again if you have another baby. And don't you ever get constipated!" Then she replaces your ice pack (with a barely audible, "bless your heart") and goes off to fetch your dinner (a fiber-free plate of starch).

So when you get pregnant the second time around, you're understandably scared. When you escape the first-trimester constipation unscathed, you feel victorious. But you're 6 months of pregnancy and a delivery shy of celebrating. Switching to a primarily plant based diet seems like a great big step in the right direction (no chance of constipation in this household!) and as the half-way mark comes into focus, hemorrhoids are no longer even on the horizon of things to be concerned about.

But then it happens. You get a cold. And after just two days of coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, it really happens. Hemorrhoids. Out of no where! As if it wasn't hard enough to get comfortable with the baby belly and the stuffy nose and the death rattle cough that takes over the room like an exorcism. And all you can think while perched pathetically on your side (besides, Is it too soon for an epidural?) is, Why didn't that damn nurse WARN me about catching a cold? Had she mentioned the catastrophic potential of a cough, there is no doubt you would have found a way to spend the entirety of the cold and flu season hermetically sealed safe inside a bubble.

So, there you have it. The hypothetical answer is clear: Being sick, pregnant AND having hemorrhoids is much worse than being sick and pregnant. Much, much worse.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Before and after.

When we first moved to Nashville I landed a job as an office manager for a semi-small, locally owned company like three weeks after we pulled in to town. It was awesome. I had never been an office manager before so the fact that I got the job at all made me feel like a bad ass interviewer. The fact that I got the job so fast made me feel like the whole moving across the country with no jobs, no friends, no idea what we were doing thing was not nearly as stupid as it sometimes seemed. It was like I had beat the system or something. I was totally stoked.

And then, I started the job.

Holy CRAP. I don't even know if I can describe to you how much this job sucked. In the five years leading up to my brief tenure at the company, there had been 18 different people in my position. Eighteen! That means on average, people only lasted about 3 months. One woman went out by police escort (she lunged at the boss and tried to strangle him), while most just ran out the door with their tails tucked between their legs.

The position was known internally as "the whipping post" since it was where the owner of the company liked to vent his constant frustration. He was one of those guys who couldn't look at you without a smirk on his face. A smirk that said, So young lady, what have you fucked up today? He made me doubt my ability to do anything: file paperwork, organize office supplies, buy toilet paper. I would drive home each night wondering how I had made it so far in life without being good at a single goddamn thing. I mean, really, my inabilities were staggering!

When I went home for Christmas after just a couple months of this BS, my sister tried her best to pump me up and help me get my groove back. She took any opportunity she could to point out things I was good at so I would stop doubting the possibility of finding another job, and maybe even update my resume while I was at it. Whenever I'd do something exceptionally impressive, she'd be like, "See? You're good at that. You should totally put that on your resume!" If it wasn't for her, I might never have realized how good I was at fake synchronized swimming, ordering from a menu, and making salads.

With her encouragement and a (mentally) beefed up resume, I quit that stupid job without any idea what I was going to do next and told that dumb ass exactly why I was leaving. I imagine it felt just as heroic as a police escort.

Since I found a much better job just a few days later without even so much as looking for one and then shifted to my current awesome job ("super mom") about a year later, my self esteem has remained pretty stable ever since. I have the occasional toilet paper mishap (why do the good brands even sell one ply?!), but I can always rely on my special skills to pull me through. We may have to suffer through 11 more rolls of hell, but at least I make a good salad!

When I recently tried to make a salad without cheese however, my special skills section died a quick, fiery death. I was still going strong with the fake synchronized swimming but my salad making skills? Gone. I kept trying to fake myself out, tossing new and exciting things into the bowl but I could only take a few bites before saying, "This is stupid!" and stomping off to the fridge to find the feta.

Then one night a couple of weeks ago, we went to dinner at our neighbors' house and my eyes were opened to a whole new world of possibilities. Their son is allergic to dairy (among other things) so the entire meal was dairy-free (and delicious). Even the salad was good! It could have been that I'm less critical of other people's cooking, but I suspect it was the poppy seed dressing I generously drizzled into my bowl. I loved it! And it would have tasted really weird with feta so I didn't even kind of miss the cheese.

That was my a-ha! moment. While I love salads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salads like that without cheese make me sad. What I needed was a trip to the salad dressing aisle. First stop, poppy seed!

Here's what I have since come up with and eaten almost every single day. It's so good I could eat it for breakfast. (Shoot, since I've been awake and kinda angry since 6 am thanks to the dog, I think today might be the day!)

Before and After Salad

Mixed greens
Sliced avocado
Shredded carrots
Grapes, sliced in half
Raisins (Get it? Grapes and raisins? That's why it's called "before and after")
Sunflower seeds
Poppy seed dressing

After you wash and dry the greens (Bill says "pre-washed" means you don't have to do that but I think that's crazy talk), toss them in a little olive oil and let them hang out in the bowl while you wash and cut the other stuff. This is a little trick I learned from my friend Erin. When the salad greens marinate in olive oil for a little bit (no vinegar or salt or anything - just a little olive oil) the texture changes slightly and it gets, I don't know, yummier somehow (definitely do this with spinach - you won't be sorry). After all the stuff is in in the bowl, toss it with the poppy seed dressing, add a little salt & pepper and enjoy!

YUM.

Next time you're having a low self esteem day, make this salad and smile. See? At least you're good at something.